The development of young English footballers is so flawed that top clubs should be allowed to have feeder teams in the lower divisions, Andre Villas-Boas said yesterday .
In an outspoken attack on an academy system in which his club in particular have invested heavily over the last eight years, the Chelsea manager, whose team face Norwich City tomorrow, advocated a system similar to that in Spain where Barcelona 'B', among other feeder teams, compete in the nation's second tier of football.
Villas-Boas said that reserve and youth-team football in England was "not competitive" and did not prepare young footballers for the transition to the first team. He warned Chelsea's high-profile youngsters currently out on loan – such as Josh McEachran at Swansea City – that they would have to prove themselves at their new clubs.
Villas-Boas said: "The youth development system in England is not right. There is plenty of effort to get it right but in my opinion it is not. The reserve team league is not competitive. The youth levels are not competitive enough. There should be national championships, while younger [boys] should play regionally. You promote more talent and competitiveness."
"The gap between the reserve and first teams is immense. Barcelona 'B' play in the equivalent of the Championship. It could be of great benefit because you recall the best young guys. If Josh [McEachran] could make the jump from Championship to Premiership every week, his involvement could be better."
Villas-Boas warned McEachran that he has to impress during his loan spell at Swansea, just as Daniel Sturridge did at Bolton last year.
"He [McEachran] has to triumph in a difficult place," he said. "Swansea have just beaten Arsenal and are well positioned in the league. So Josh has to make his way and have the same impact as Daniel did at Bolton."
On Fernando Torres, who will almost certainly start tomorrow, Villas-Boas said that he did not feel his £50m striker was inhibited by playing with Didier Drogba as had been suggested by his predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti. "We're speaking about two of the best players in the world," he said. "If that was the case, it would be a mental weakness or a mental block. Which is not the case, in my opinion."